The Project

The Project

The educational cultural programme "A forgotten architectural project – Romania's old kulas. Past and future" – THE KULAS.


The National Heritage Institute cooperatively with the "Alexandru Ștefulescu" Gorj County Museum, the County Museum "Aurelian Sacerdoțeanu" Vâlcea – the Museum Complex of Măldărești and the National College "Spiru Haret" Târgu Jiu, as partners, are collaborating in the educational cultural project "A forgotten architectural project – Romania's old kulas. Past and future" – THE KULAS", funded by the Administration of the Romanian Cultural Fund - AFCN.

The aim of this cultural project, which involves a series of events, is to preserve and harness an architectural programme specific of Romania, part of an East-European architectural program, which unfortunately is about to become forgotten – the kulas. The project proposed to perform a roving exhibition that will be opened in Targu Jiu and Măldărești. The Târgu Jiu exhibition will be opened on 26 September and will remain open up to 18 October 2013. The opening will be followed by a roundtable dedicated to kulas, the built architectural heritage in general, which will be attended by representatives of the three partners, representatives of public institutions – local municipalities, schools, school inspectorates, higher education institutions - history, heritage, architecture, county cultural departments of the places where kulas are located, but also their private owners, The Romanian Architects' Union, the Romanian Architects' Order, media etc. On 27 September, the project members and partners, especially the third partner – the National "Spiru Haret" High School in Târgu Jiu will take a field trip in the three counties where kulas are still located – Mehedinți, Gorj, Vâlcea.

As this project is designed to promote cultural education, to preserve the heritage and to promote and harness the heritage for tourist and cultural purposes, a contest will be held on 30 September 2013 focusing on architectural heritage of Romania, especially that of Oltenia (kulas, fortified boyars' houses, mansions, palaces, churches, hermitages, convents, memorial houses, etc.), with the participation of the students of the National College ' Spiru Haret".

On 22 October, the exhibition will be opened at the Măldărești Museum Compound in Măldărești Village, Vâlcea county, a complex that belongs to the "Aurelian Sacerdoțeanu" Vâlcea County Museum. The Măldărești exhibition will remain open from 22 October to 12 November 2013.

Târgu Jiu and Măldărești were chosen as opening venues for the exhibition especially due to the good preservation and promotion of the highest number of kulas - historical monuments of the area, the kulas of Curtișoara: Cornoiu, Tatarascu and those of Măldărești: Greceanu, Duca etc, but also due to other two historical monuments of national and universal importance – the Monastery Horezu, a UNESCO monument and the Monumental Ensemble of Targu Jiu, the work of Constantin Brancusi – which is to be put on the World Heritage List (UNESCO).

The kula, which is part of a East-European architectural programme which unfortunately is about to become extinct, is a type of construction which is spread in the area of the Balkan Peninsula, south of the Danube, especially in Serbia, Albania and Bulgaria. To the North of the Danube, it is only typical of the area neighboring the Balkan area, namely Oltenia and Western Muntenia. The term derives from the Turkish word "Kula" that means tower. Nowadays, its meaning has been restricted to those buildings which, besides their characteristics specific of towers, their main purpose is that of providing a place to live in. In other words, "kula" is a fortified place, shaped as a tower, a "stronghold" place to live.

Valuable from a historical, social, architectural, regional, national, East-European point of view, the Romanian's kulas are one of the numerous examples where national particularities combine with influences typical of the constructions of neighboring peoples (Serbs, Albanian, Bulgarian). The presentation of this architectural type is aimed at preserving the memory of this type of building which may become history literally and which, depending on the territory where it is found and on the social and political context, appeared as an expression of the people's need for safety, defense, watch keeping, signaling and even as a place of residence.

The Romanian kula is a specific transformation of an architectural program, having a passive or active defense role, typical of the Balkans, which undergoes changes and adaptations specific of our area, where the defense need was rather social, but they also had to deal with Turkish raids from Southern Danube. Consequently, the share of decorative elements grows to the detriment of the fortification ones in the Romanian Kula, which has two or three levels, an almost square plane and stone and brick walls. In those areas where the Turkish domination lasted a long time and the internal turmoil was a lot more intense, the kulas look like a fortified tower, such as in Vrata, Bulgaria. The same happens in Albania, Macedonia or Greece. We started to have accurate information about the apparition of kulas in the 18th century. The kulas were built during the 40 phanariot reigns of Romania. The aspect of the kulas was prefigured by traits of the manorial houses previous to the phanariot period. On the other hand, the aspect of the peasants' houses in the kulas' areas cannot be ignored, houses which generally have a high ground floor and a basement at ground level.

Through their "spread area", the kulas preserve "the national kulas". Find the best Australian casinos by experts. The existence of gazebos, verandas and porches of Romanian kulas differentiates them from the Kulas of Balkans where there are no such spaces. The gazebo, the gallery or the veranda bordered by pillars on the upper floor are tokens of the "national specificity", of the Romanian kulas. In the past centuries (17th – 18th), the kulas were also spread on the adjacent plain areas, up to Bucharest, but the kulas in the plain area, which were fewer at the beginning, disappeared before the others. The kulas on the List of Romanian Historical Monuments still exist in the counties of Gorj (8), Vâlcea (5), Argeș (6), in the Northern part of the counties Dolj (3) and Mehedinți (3), a kula in Teleorman and another one in the county of Olt. Nowadays, there are only 27 kulas – historical monument in total, out of which two are ruins (one in the Vâlcea county and one in Gorj and Argeș). The most well-known kulas are those of the Popular Architecture Museum Curtisoara Gorj: Cornoiu, Tatarascu and the Museum Complex Măldărești Vâlcea – Greceanu, Duca, the kula Bujoreanu of the Museum of Popular Architecture Bujoreni-Vâlcea, but also the kula Tudor Vladimirescu, the kula Racovița, Mioveni-Argeș, which are the preserved, some of them have been restored.

Institutul Național al Patrimoniului         Administrația Fondului Cultural Național